Aircraft in World War Two
In World War I, aircraft were dangerous flying tin cans. At the beginning of World War II, the situation was the same, but then with advanced technology the planes became stronger, faster, safer, and more accurate.
The Allies and the Axis used planes over Europe, North Africa, The Pacific, and Asia to fight in World War II. Some of the different planes used were Bombers, Night Reconnaissance, Day Reconnaissance, Monoplane Fighter Prototype, Torpedo Bomber, Dive Bomber, Carrier Bomber, Naval Reconnaissance Floatplane Aircraft, Submarine-Based Attack Floatplane, Two-Engine Night Fighter Aircraft, Transport lane, Observation Aircraft, as well as many other kinds. Each country had different names for their types of planes.
There were 93 different types of German fighter aircraft. The Germans were known for Blitzkrieg attack. These lightning fast attacks would serve to make breaks in enemy lines from the air. It is hard in battle to hold your line and to stay safe from air attacks. As breaks were made in the line, the Germans on the ground would move into the enemy hold. The planes would fly in to the zones in groups, hit quickly, and then move our quickly. This method was how Germany was able to successfully invade Poland.
The German Air force was called Luftwaffe and they were considered to be a superior air presence. This method of attack was also used as Germany marched into France in 1940. Some of the German planes used were the Messerschmitt Bf-109/Me-109, the Dornier Do-17, the Focke-Wolfe Fw-190, and the Henschel Hs-123.
Major Erich Hartmann was one of the most famous German pilots. Called “The Black Devil.” He flew 1,404-air mission and fought in 825 battles in the sky. He brought down 352 Allied airplanes.
The most famous air attack by the Japanese was the one of Pearl Harbor. In the early morning of December 7, 1941 the Japanese came into the islands of Hawaii in two waves of attack. Originally they were supposed to have three different waves. At 7:48 a.m. 353 Imperial Japanese Air force torpedo planes, bombers, and fighters damages the airplanes, battleships, destroyers, and base facilities. This attack, along with other building issues pushed the United States to enter World War II.
Japan was known for its kamikaze pilots. These were suicide pilots who would attack the Allies by diving into the targets. The name kamikaze means “divine wind.” By the end of World War II, over 2500 Kamikaze pilots had scarified themselves. Over 5000 Allied members died because of the Kamikaze attacks.
Italian Aircraft in World War II
The Italian air force was called the Regia Aeronautica and referred to as the RIAF. The Italians had a small air force with only 3000 planes. However, the airplanes they did have were considered to be very advanced planes. Before the war, in 1939 Italy had the world’s third largest commercial air system. Mussolini, the Italian dictator, had many of his planes fight over France as the AXIS powers moved into the area.
The British Air force was called the RAF, Royal Air force. The RAF was founded on April 1, 1918. One of the most important air battles was called the Battle of Britain and it took place between July 10 to October 31, 1940. The Spitfire was a plane that played a large role in this long battle. In September of 1940, over 60 Spitfires and Hurricanes fought near Duxford and Fowlmere.
One of the most famous RAF pilot was a man named Air Vice Marshal Johnnie Johnson. He had 34 kills in the air and shared in many others. He had more success than any other RAF pilot against the Luftwaffe. By the end of World War II, Britain had over one million staff working for the RAF.
Aircraft of the Soviet Union
The Air force of the Red Army was founded in 1917. When the war began, the Soviet Union was going trough a re-organization of the air force due to political and government problems. Things did not get better, as on the first two days that Germany invaded Russia, 2500 aircraft were destroyed. Russia had many female pilots. A famous female regiments called the 586 Fighter Aviation Regiment took place in over 4,419 combat missions. They were called the Night Witches.
The most dependent airplane was called a Yakovlev Yak-3. The Yak-3 was a light bomber who could turn quickly in large radius. It was often used in Dogfights. A DogFight is a fight between two planes. The Yak-3 was faster by about 30 mph than any enemy fighters. The Yak-3 was not put into military service for Russia until 1944.
United States Aircraft
The air force of the United States was not really ready for World War II. They had just begun to slowly add planes and then they had lost 169 planes at Pearl Harbor and 159 were destroyed. The first United States planes began to join the RAF in the early months of 1942. The B-17 bomber was the most popular plane used at the beginning of the United States activity in the war.
Jimmy Doolittle was one of the most famous US pilots. He was trained as a pilot, engineers, and military strategist. He flew the lead for the 16 Allies plane involved in the 1942 night attack on Tokyo, Japan.
The Enola Gay is probably the most famous plane of the US Air force. It was a Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber. It was the plane that on August 6, 1945 dropped the atomic bomb called “Little Boy” over Hiroshima, Japan.